Ask the Experts: Local health professional warns of Delta variant risk among unvaccinated

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Ballad Health’s Jamie Swift warned of the dangers of a new variant of COVID-19 that’s spreading and infecting the population at a rapid pace.

Swift said that those who are fully vaccinated remain well protected against the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus, but for those who have yet to receive a shot, the emerging illness could wreak havoc.

“If the Delta variant gets here — and it probably is when the Delta variant gets here and not if — those people are the ones that are going to be affected,” she said. “We know this is unvaccinated people or even the people with only one vaccine of the two-dose series that are really going to be at risk.

“I don’t want those people living under a false sense of security because their risk is going to greatly increase when the Delta variant gets here.”

Compared to other strains of the virus, the Delta variant has proven to be more contagious and detrimental to the health of those who fall ill with it.

“It appears it may be more virulent, making people sicker, putting more people in the hospital,” Swift said. “We know it’s more transmissible. There’s early indication that it’s also going to be more virulent.”

As COVID-19 cases in the region remain at a decline, the threat of the Delta variant lingers.

“Obviously, right now, the region is in a fairly good place as far as cases and new cases,” Swift said. “Our numbers look much better. We are certainly far better than we were just a few months ago at this time. So, the data around new cases and all that looks really good right now.

“There are various and many concerning things about the Delta variant. It’s really important for people to understand that this variant is more contagious from everything that we’re seeing. So, that really becomes a risk to those in our region who are not vaccinated. Up to this point, I think we’ve had people who have not become infected who feel like they weren’t at high risk that COVID probably wouldn’t affect them.”

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